Jim Boeheim has accomplished and experienced virtually everything a college basketball head coach can feasibly do throughout a career. Saturday, when Syracuse hosts Miami (FL), he will do something he’s never done before — coach the Orange in an ACC conference game, rather than the Big East.
The objective remains the same: to win a conference championship.
If Boeheim and the Orange accomplish this feat — yeah, I know, way too early to even begin to think about winning the ACC, but go with me here — they will be just the second team to win a power conference in their first season. The only other team to do it: Arkansas in 1991-92. This is when the Razorbacks were in their heyday under Nolan Richardson.
If you look at those teams, how many had been league champions in their old league in the past 10 years? Syracuse is a power. You don’t often see the power of a league switch leagues. It doesn’t happen that often. Usually, teams in a power position in a league remain in that league…In Syracuse’s favor, after all those years in Big East, Syracuse is more suited than most teams to play in a new league because of all the styles they faced in the Big East.
Boston College, formerly of the Big East and current member of the ACC, found success in their first season in the league. Farther west, Colorado did well for themselves in the Pac-12, after moving over from the Big 12:
Boston College, which had been Big East co-champions in 2004-05, went 11-5 to finish third in its first year in the ACC in 2005-06. Colorado placed fifth in the Pac-12 after joining the conference for the 2011-12 season, but the Buffaloes won the Pac-12’s conference tournament. Colorado is the only school to win its conference tournament in Year One of a new league.
Bilas makes a good point in that the routine of Syracuse has been broken. Trips up and down the East Coast are different than traveling primarily around the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Athletes and coaches are creatures of habit.
One road trip that should be circled on all of college hoop fan’s calendars: February 22nd at Duke. Watching the Orange in Cameron Indoor will be a treat.
Will Syracuse be able to join Arkansas in elite company? Time will tell.
Rob Dauster was joined by Jeff Goodman of Stadium and the Good N Plenty Podcast to walk through what has been a wild week in college basketball. Villanova was embarrassed at home by Michigan. UConn went into the Garden and beat up on Syracuse. Are Michigan and UConn for real? Should we be worried about the Orange? They get into all of that.
OPEN: Goodman’s podcast and how he weighs journalistic principles in a new medium.
12:00: What has been the most surprising result of the season to date?
16:05: Is Michigan a title contender this season?
27:00: UConn beat Syracuse. Should the Orange be worried or is UConn #actuallygood?
33:30: Some Maui preview talk.
Thursday’s Things To Know: UConn impresses, 3-point record falls and Oregon falters
We’re closing in on one of the more entertaining stretches of the college basketball season with Thanksgiving tournaments giving us all-day hoops and really interesting non-conference matchups. It’s still early, and the best is yet to come, but Thursday night provided some quality hoops. Oh, and one guy shooting a ton of 3s. Literally more 3s than anyone has ever shot before. Here’s what you need to know:
1. UConn asserts itself against Syracuse.
It’s been a tough few years at UConn. It’s been two really bad years, but it’s mostly been not-great for the Huskies since that 2014 national title. It’s Dan Hurley’s job to change that. His first Big East throwback game certainly looked like it’s one he’ll be up for.
Changing the culture has become The Thing New Coaches Simply Have To Talk About, but there’s no doubting it needed to happen in Storrs as a program that’s used to winning national titles began to languish in a league that’s simply second tier. UConn in the AAC is a different challenge for a coach than UConn in the Big East. It’s tougher. Hurley has a long way to go, but getting a team to buy in from the outset is a positive signal.
2. Jordan Lyons goes berserk
On Wednesday night, Josh Williams of Robert Morris tied a 23-year-old NCAA record by making 15 3-pointers. It took about 24 hours for that number to be matched again.
As teams continue to hoist shots from 3-point range at an ever-increasing rate, these types of nights are going to become more typical, but to see two guys tie a record that’s stood for more than two decades on back-to-back nights? I mean, c’mon, that’s a little crazy.
3. Oregon goes down
Give Iowa credit. The Hawkeyes shot just 35.7 percent from the floor, but got to the line 33 times, making 29 of their attempts (87.9 percent) and grabbed 13 offensive rebounds to keep the offense afloat. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a 77-69 neutral site win against a ranked opponent, which will certainly come in handy for a team looking to get back to the NCAA tournament after a two-year drought.
Also, the Big Ten looks like it might be pretty good. Michigan stomped all over Villanova, Indiana blasted Marquette, Wisconsin handled Xavier and now the Hawkeyes bested Oregon. That’s a pretty good week for a league that has been stuck in something of a malaise the last few seasons.
The overwhelming feeling from watching the nightcap at Madison Square Garden, though, was just how underwhelming Oregon looked. There just wasn’t a lot of there there for the Ducks. That’s problematic for a top-15 team that is the heavy favorite to win the Pac-12 this season. They just lost a game to what many would pick to be a middle-of-the-pac B1G while holding them to under 40 percent shooting while only committing eight turnovers themselves. Getting 25 points from Ehab Amin is nice, but otherwise an all around uninspiring performance from Dana Altman’s group.
No More Hangdogs: Husky transformation under Hurley on display in UConn’s win over No. 15 Syracuse
Danny Hurley knew that he had work to do to get this UConn basketball program back to where it was when the Big East was the best conference in college hoops.
He knew that he was taking over a program that was coming off their second-straight losing season. He knew that three four-star prospects — Vance Jackson, Juwan Durham and Connecticut native Steve Enoch — had transferred out of the program. He knew, going in, that the UConn fanbase wasn’t in the mood for nonsense, that they didn’t want to hear about rebuilds or patience or any of the excuses that new head coaches have at-the-ready.
The son of the most famous high school basketball coach in New Jersey, the younger brother of an All-American and two-time national champion point guard at Duke, he was ready for, even craved, expectation.
“I want to be in a place where greatness is expected,” Hurley said. “If I’m not in a place like that I don’t want to be there.”
He was ready to deal with whatever the fishbowl of UConn basketball had to throw at him.
What he couldn’t deal with was the hangdog faces.
“That’s an old cartoon,” Hurley said last month, elaborating after lamenting how The Horde, as UConn’s pack of beat writers is known, “knows everything.” The story goes like this: Early on, back before he really knew his players and his players really knew him, Hurley sent the team’s group-text a picture of that cartoon — a weathered, sad-looking old hound dog — and told the team that this is what he could not tolerate.
“I don’t want hangdog looks,” he said. “I want guys that are smiling, happy to be on the court. If you’re a real baller, when you get on the practice floor, that should be the best part of your day. You’re doing the thing you love the most.”
As Hurley told this story, Jalen Adams, UConn’s star point guard, yelled, with a smile stretching from ear-to-ear, “No hangdogs!”
Hurley, in the lobby of the Philadelphia Airport Marriott, surrounded by cameras and reporters with recorders shoved in his face, flashed a dimpled smile of his own; I’m not entirely sure he could actually see Adams.
A month later, and UConn is unrecognizable to anyone that watched the program play in the final years of Ollie’s tenure.
The energy and the effort level matched every drop of intensity that Hurley had on the sideline. Alterique Gilbert, finally healthy after two seasons lost to shoulder surgeries, is hawking Syracuse ball-handlers for 94-feet. So is Adams. So is Christian Vital, and Tarin Smith, and Brendan Adams. Eric Cobb, who was 40 pounds overweight and all-but off the team by the end of last season, was posting the first double-double of his career while Tyler Polley was banging home big threes.
The Huskies, playing for the right to call Madison Square Garden their own, handed No. 15 Syracuse their first loss of the season, 83-76.
They were dogs, not a hangdog in sight.
Getting this program from where it was when Hurley took over to this point was not an easy task. He was demanding. He did not look past any mistake that was made in practice, no matter how small. He created a practice environment that was chaotic, hectic and uncomfortable. He wanted intensity. He wanted stress. He wanted his guys to get used being tired, to working themselves past the point of what they thought was exhaustion. He wanted them to think game-night was the easiest night of the week.
But to do that, he also had to reinvigorate that passion.
Losing in an insidious force within a locker room. Your confidence disappears. Your enthusiasm for the game withers. Basketball stops being enjoyable. The longer the losing lasts, the most desperate and hopeless the situation seems. The comparison that Hurley made was to a pet that has lived in a shelter. All it takes to turn them back into the loving, carefree pet they were is a stable, loving home, an environment they can thrive.
That started with going back to the basics.
Hurley made everything a competition.
Win in a drill, whether it was spot-shooting or shell or 4-on-4-on-4, you get a point. Lose, and you’re on the baseline, but if you win the sprint, you get that point back. Keep a leaderboard throughout a practice, then throughout a week, then throughout the preseason. Making winning matter again.
Once that happened, the next step was turning Adams, his senior star, into the best player he could be. Becoming a more consistent shooter was key, but the priority was Adams’ leadership. He was as guilty of the hangdog mentality as anyone on the roster, a problem because of his role as the star. When things are going bad during a game, Adams needs to be the guy to lift their spirits.
“He can’t get deflated when the other team goes on a run,” Hurley said, and this is where those stressful, uncomfortable practices come into play. If his team is down in practice, fight back and find a way to win the drill. If he’s tired, stay on the floor and gut through it. If you lose, get on guys to be better. Demand more of himself so that he can demand more of the players around him.
“He’s put me in situations in practice where I’m just like, ‘Yo, I can’t do this anymore,'” Adams said. “In practice, it’s so intense. Everyone is tired. Sometimes we’ll sub off for one rep, and that’s one of the things that he challenged me on. And don’t just be out there, be out there and be active. Go hard the whole time.”
“Guys will follow his lead,” Hurley said. “If he’s more determined and grittier this year on game night, especially when teams are on runs or late in games, he’ll change the narrative of his career.”
This was not something that made Adams comfortable. As he put it, “I don’t want to be ‘that guy.'” He didn’t want to be the player that teammates thought was annoying, or the guy everyone thinks is showing off for the coach. There’s a fine line between ‘my teammate cares about me, and the team, and winning’ and ‘yo, this dude cares too much.’ That was the balancing act Adams had to master, and it’s something that is still a work in progress.
But he did have 16 points and four assists against the Orange on Thursday night.
And he did make critical plays throughout the second half to stem the tide of an Orange run. There was the loose ball he grabbed, which ignited a fast break and ended with Adams finding Smith for a layup to push UConn’s lead back to seven points. There was the pass he made to Gilbert, using his eyes and a ball-fake to move the Cuse zone, for a three-pointer that pushed the lead to ten. There were the seven defensive rebounds he grabbed playing, at times, as the third-biggest guy on the floor.
Most importantly, there was the three he hit with 1:24 left on the clock, a dagger that put the Huskies up 76-66 and sent all of the Orange in the building scurrying for the exits.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Adams made a bee line for his head coach.
Two chest-bumps, a slap to the face and some very loud, very-inappropriate-for-this-setting words later, it was clear that these Huskies, at least on this night, were not hangdogs.
VIDEO: Furman’s Jordan Lyons shoots record 34 3-pointers, ties record with 15 makes
Where were you for the historic Furman-North Greenville game?
Well, the game wasn’t historic so much as the performance of the Paladins’ Jordan Lyons.
The 5-foot-11 junior tied an NCAA record with 15 made 3-pointers and broke the record for 3-point attempts in the game with 34 as he poured in 54 points in Furman’s 107-67 victory Thursday over their Division II opponents.
Lyons’ 15 made 3s matches the number Keith Veney of Marshall made in 1995. That record was unmatched until, surprisingly enough, it was tied the day prior by Robert Morris’ Josh Williams, who was 15 of 25 against Mt. Aloysius, a D3 school.
The 34 attempts is the most-ever, besting the 27 launched by Manhattan’s Bruce Seals in 2000. He made nine of those.
Lyons is a career 32.7 percent 3-point shooter, and the 15 triples he canned Thursday increased his career total by 15 percent. In a single game.
It’ll be interesting to see how long these types of records stand as teams continue to push the envelope on the 3-point line. Team records are surely set to fall pretty consistently in the near future. Maybe guys shooting 20-plus 3s in a game is going to become relatively commonplace?
Either way, save your ticket stubs if you were in Greenville, S.C. tonight.
As the son of the Hall of Fame coach, Buddy Boeheim can count on a lot of things. He’ll get tons of attention. He’ll be talked about time and again on national television. He’ll be under quite a bit of scrutiny. That’s part of the deal when you’re playing for your dad, a legend in Jim Boeheim.
You’d also think the equipment guys would spell your name right.
The Syracuse freshman was missing an “e” on his jersey in the Orange’s loss Thursday to UConn, leaving maybe the most famous last name in Syracuse, N.Y. misspelled as” Boheim.”
Jim has been a part of the Syracuse program since 1962. Maybe it’ll take a second national title to make sure his kid’s name is spelled right on the jersey.